HMAS Sydney’s career highlights

This article has photo gallery Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), ABIS Evan Murphy (photographer), Unknown (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Sydney (F03)

HMAS Sydney passes the Sydney Opera House on her way into Sydney Harbour. (photo: Unknown)
HMAS Sydney passes the Sydney Opera House on her way into Sydney Harbour.

Following a setback caused by a $4 million fire during fit out in Seattle on January 25, 1982, HMAS Sydney (IV) went on to experience a long, interesting and varied career.

The ship achieved a number of firsts for the Navy; she was the first Australian warship to call at a Swedish port during a four-day visit to Stockholm in July, 1990.

HMAS Sydney ship's badge

HMAS Sydney ship's badge



This was almost immediately followed up by a voyage through the Panama Canal to San Diego, on 7 August, making Sydney (IV) the first Royal Australian Navy ship to transit the canal in 15 years.

On 11 July 1991, Sydney was the first Australian warship to visit the German naval port of Kiel.

The ship’s company was welcomed by survivors of the German raider Kormoran, which sank namesake, HMAS Sydney (II), off Western Australia on 19 November 1941.

In May 1995, Sydney (IV) was the first Australian warship to visit the Russian port of Vladivostok, supporting a diplomatic and trade mission.

Sydney
(IV) was alongside in Suva, Fiji, on 14 May 1987, when the first of that year’s two coups d’état occurred. With her sister ship HMAS Adelaide alongside in Lautoka, she was instructed to remain off Fiji to assist any necessary evacuation of Australian citizens, which was the first component of what became Operation MORRIS DANCE.

Left: Mr John Gilbride Jr. of Todd Pacific Shipyards, the launching lady Mrs Marjorie Joyce Willis, the flower girl Margaret Chapman, and Captain S.P. Passantino, USN, during the launching ceremony of HMAS Sydney (IV). Middle: Sydney sliding down the slipway. Right: Captain Passantino, the matron of honour Mrs J.A. O'Farrell, Miss Chapman, Mrs Willis, Captain D.M. Stembel Jr. USN, and Mr Gilbride pose following the launching ceremony.

Left: Mr John Gilbride Jr. of Todd Pacific Shipyards, the launching lady Mrs Marjorie Joyce Willis, the flower girl Margaret Chapman, and Captain S.P. Passantino, USN, during the launching ceremony of HMAS Sydney (IV). Middle: Sydney sliding down the slipway. Right: Captain Passantino, the matron of honour Mrs J.A. O'Farrell, Miss Chapman, Mrs Willis, Captain D.M. Stembel Jr. USN, and Mr Gilbride pose following the launching ceremony.


Sydney 
deployed to the Persian Gulf on five occasions to in support of US-led coalition operations during the 1990-91 Gulf War, the war on terror, and the 2003 Iraq War.

On 4 November 1991, the ship was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation, "For meritorious operational service in the Persian Gulf during enforcement of sanctions in support of UN Security Council Resolutions and the subsequent period of hostilities against Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1990-91". Commander Lee Cordner was the Commanding Officer of Sydney when she received her citation. With a strike rate of just under three a day, Sydney completed her 200th merchant ship boarding in the Red Sea on 15 January 1992, with this becoming the then highest tally by any non-US ship in the fleet conducting UN sanctions against Iraq.

While on passage from Sydney to Lord Howe Island on 3 October 1994, the ship recovered wreckage from a small airliner which crashed into the Tasman Sea with all nine passengers and crew losing their lives.

 

Battle Honours - HMAS Sydney (IV)

Leading Seaman GJ Ball and Able Seaman MJ Clifford pose in front of Sydney's battle honours board.

Leading Seaman GJ Ball and Able Seaman MJ Clifford pose in front of Sydney's battle honours board.

  • Kuwait 1991
  • East Timor 1999
  • Persian Gulf 2001–03
  • Iraq 2003

Inherited Battle Honours

  • Rabaul 1914
  • Emden 1914
  • North Sea 1916–18
  • Calabria 1940
  • Spada 1940
  • Mediterranean 1940
  • Kormoran 1941
  • Korea 1951–52
  • Malaysia 1964
  • Vietnam 1965–72


The campaign and battle honours carried by HMAS Sydney (IV) representing the collective service of each of the ships that have carried the name of Australia's largest city.

The campaign and battle honours carried by HMAS Sydney (IV) representing the collective service of each of the ships that have carried the name of Australia's largest city.

In 1997, Sydney (IV) was one of several Navy Royal Australian Navy vessels placed on standby following a serious outbreak of political disturbances in Papua New Guinea (PNG), although ultimately no action was required by the Australian ships. The disturbances were part of the ‘Sandline Affair’, where the Australian government objected to a PNG government plan to employ South Africans as policemen to end the long-running Bougainville crisis.

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Rebecca Florance with a special edition of the 'then and now' stamp that was launched at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Rebecca Florance with a special edition of the 'then and now' stamp that was launched at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.


Sydney
was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) peacekeeping taskforce from 3 November to 19 December 1999, and received the campaign award 'East Timor 1999' for this deployment.

On 17 May 2009, Sydney (IV) and HMAS Ballarat provided aid to two merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, driving off two separate gangs of Somali pirates attacking the ships.

Sydney
(IV) remained in the area to report the incidents to Combined Task Force 151, while Ballarat escorted an impromptu convoy of eight ships, including the two that were attacked, to safety.

Australia Post featured Sydney (IV) and Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Rebecca Florance on a 60-cent postage stamp issued in June 2011 as part of the celebrations of the Navy’s centenary.

The ship also completed two round-the-world voyages during her long commission in the Navy.

For more information, visit the HMAS Sydney's ship history page on the Navy website.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20153042.

Sydney makes a replenishment approach on a tanker during operations in the MEAO. Note the Radar Absorbent Matting (RAM) affixed to her superstructure for this deployment Bottom: Sydney on patrol in the MEAO.

Sydney makes a replenishment approach on a tanker during operations in the MEAO. Note the Radar Absorbent Matting (RAM) affixed to her superstructure for this deployment Bottom: Sydney on patrol in the MEAO.